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Shows cancelled at France's d'Avignon theatre festival as workers protest unemployment changes

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AVIGNON, France - One of Europe's premier theatre festivals is cancelling some shows as French workers protest changes to their off-season unemployment benefits.

The director of the Festival d'Avignon, Olivier Py, told journalists in Avignon that two plays scheduled to run on Friday's opening night have been cancelled.

The CGT union announced a strike but it's unclear how many workers are taking part.

Hundreds of seasonal theatre workers and other artistic workers have demonstrated in recent weeks against a plan by France's indebted government to streamline and reduce the unemployment benefits they receive in the off-season. The dispute threatens to disrupt arts festivals across the country this summer.

The Festival d'Avignon in Provence is a three-week smorgasbord of theatre, dance and eclectic performances that draws visitors from around the world.

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